City Councilor

Due to recent media coverage I was under the impression that all politicians were old, disloyal, cut throat people who just want power. After meeting city Councillor Josh Matlow I realized the stereotype is clearly not legitimate. Josh is a great everyday guy who simply wants to help out Toronto and make it a better place for all. Councillor Matlow was elected to represent ward 22, St. Paul’s in Toronto, which is home to over 60,000 people. Ward 22 is one Toronto’s wealthiest wards and one of the most difficult to manage.

When I walked into the councillor’s chambers his staff of four greeted me. Along with his staff, Councillor Matlow answers every single call related to his ward. The staff says the phones can be quiet for a while, but when it rains, it pours. Sometimes they are flooded with phone calls due to issues ranging from potholes to larger more complex issues. Councillor Matlow addresses these issues everyday, but this is only one aspect of his job.

The day I visited he had a committee meeting to attend. He is one of six city councillors to sit on the Community Development and Recreation Committee which monitors and strengthens communities and city facilities around the city. The committee meeting was nastier than I thought it would be, city councillors are very passionate about their beliefs and aren’t afraid to fight for them. Many residents also made deputations to the committee, which was cool to watch. Although other councillors didn’t enjoy Torontonians yelling at them, Councillor Matlow approached the residents away from the spotlight after their turn on the microphone to commend them for speaking and tell them they’ve been heard. No other city councillor did this and it really shows Councillor Matlow’s true colours. He simply represents the people, he doesn’t care about his own idealogical views unlike most of city council which has basically divided into teams. He is a non-traditional politician who I think Toronto’s youth can really identify with.

I was also amazed of the vast variety of knowledge a city councillor must have. They have to understand economics, sociology, urban planning, the environment, and many other topics since they deal with varying issues every day. It’s a tough job and of course extremely rewarding, but you must have the passion that Councillor Matlow exhibits day in and day out.

To learn more about Councillor Matlow check out the links below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Matlow http://www.blogto.com/people/2011/02/toronto_through_the_eyes_of_councillor_josh_matlow/ http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid?850351244001

A Typical Day

On a regular day a city councilor may be solving local issues for his ward, making new policies with other city councillors for the whole city, or making appearances in his ward. His schedule is always different and he may work evenings and weekends; however, everyday he tries to solve people’s problems.

Top 3 Perks

1) Great benefits (health and contributions to pension)

2) Prominence 

3) Meet great people in your ward 

Job Culture

Long hours in offices and council meetings, schedule is irregular, debating, dealing with complaints

Requirements

Studying Political science, history, religion, sociology, economics, and environmental studies would be helpful to become a city councillor. You have to be able to run an effective campaign and win in your ward. 

Skills Needed

Communication, empathy, analytical, leadership, people skills, organizational, energetic, writing, fundraising, thick skin, persuasive


The Field

- City councilors face elections every 3-4 years so job security is not stable 

- Very tough to get into as a young person because you need the faith of voters